Pakistan Sri Lanka Relations: Diplomacy And Statecraft At Its Best
Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka|February 24, 2021
With Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scheduled visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka on February 23, the Pakistani Prime Minister, will be the first Head of Government to visit Sri Lanka after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation last year.
Zara Mandviwalla Akbarally

There seems to be an air of expectation for the renewal of relations covering trade, commerce, culture and defence matters between the countries. Relationships between the two governments have always been strong, however, during former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe’s term, efforts made by the Government of Pakistan was not paid much heed to. The optimism in the election of the new Government is depicted in the Prime Ministers official state visit to Colombo, which seems to be received with much interest for the maintenance of Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s cooperative relationship.

On Sri Lanka’s independence on February 4, 1948, the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah aptly described the nature of Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations in his message: “Pakistan has the warmest goodwill towards Ceylon, and I am sanguine that the good feelings which exist between our people will be further strengthened as the years roll by and our common interests, and mutual and reciprocal handling of them, will bring us into still closer friendship.”

This friendship was depicted in 1971 during the civil war with India, when Sri Lanka provided transit and refueling facilities at Bandaranaike International Airport for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) while on its way to East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh as the airspace over India could not be accessed at that time. The Sri Lanka - Pakistan defence ties and military cooperation has always been a strong point where Pakistan supplied Sri Lanka with defence equipment and intelligence support in 2009 while Sri Lanka was engaged in the civil war with the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Furthermore, considerable goodwill and mutual trust was created when Pakistan provided military training to Sri Lankan armed personnel at its premier defence colleges.

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